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Leading in a Rapidly Changing Environment

Discuss about the Motivation and Empowerment in Relation to Cirque du Soleils Case.

Competition in the business environment has greatly increased as a result of globalization. Organizations are now looking into other ways of remaining profitable in these difficult times. Many of them have however failed to recognize the human capital as the most important asset in the profitability and effectiveness of any company, if wisely managed. An organization can only attain success if the employees are motivated and satisfied with their work. Employees are different and have different needs. It is therefore the managements’ responsibility to understand the needs of the employees and identify what motivates them.  

Recent years have however seen an increase in the focus on employees’ welfare. Companies are now striving to hire and retain the best employees in the industries. Importance of employees to the success of businesses is being realized. Actions aimed at achieving maximum input from employees are being undertaken. Some include employee enrichment, fulfillment, empowerment and motivation. Management functions have also been transformed to be more of employee oriented than customer focused. One of these management functions that has greatly transformed is leading.

This paper seeks to analyze the topic of human capital in relation to the Cirque du Soleil’s case. It discusses leading in the changing business environment, employee management, motivation and empowerment.

Leading is one of the four management functions responsible for the success of organizations others being planning, organizing and controlling. It is defined as the process of guiding and motivating individuals towards the realization of the organizational goals. The changing business world has brought with it new challenges in leadership. Globalization of the workforce is one such challenge. Organizations now find themselves working with employees from different cultures. In Cirque du Soleil’s case, Crawford says that there was a big cultural difference with the Chinese troupe that was the main acrobatic team in “Dralion” (Delong & V i jayaraghavan, 2002).

Leaders must therefore take into consideration the special needs of such groups. Leadership styles vary among individuals and organizations from autocratic, Laissez-faire to democratic. Leading has a number of responsibilities which include motivation of the workforce, inspiring the employees to achieve the set goals and modeling standard behavior. There are various important keys to leading individuals in this changing business world.

  • Training

As much as emphasis is usually placed on skills during the hiring process, employees still need to be trained. With the changing world there is every possibility that skills acquired in the past may not be the best presently. Hired employees receive training from different places. This can lead to disparity in ways of doing things. To attain uniformity there is need for the company to retrain its employees. Munoz says that although the clowns had been trained in different places, they now share a common knowledge as a result of being trained by the master clown from New York. Training is also important in multifunctional units whereby experts in one field might need to receive some training experience in another field they interact with regularly (Andish, Yousefipour, Shahsavaripour, Ghorbanipour, & Noorfelri, 2013). In addition to receiving training in six new languages, Munoz says they also have amazing experience of working with other artists like acrobats.

  • Leading by example

Individual Employee Management

Managers should always serve as the perfect role models for their employees. This is because employees tend to emulate the determination of their leaders. Managers must have sound principles that they are ready to stand for and defend. D’Amico states that Guy can never compromise on the creative side. This shows that he has a stand that he is willing to defend.

  • Hiring and retaining skilled and experienced employees

It is important to hire and retain people with the required skills (Gaines & Wilson, 2005). This reduces, but does not eliminate, training needs. People with the right skills also integrate easily into the system without any conflicts with the existing employees. Cantin says that it had been a challenging experience trying to find the right artists. This is because they had to travel to more than 20 countries and hold auditions to find the perfect fit for both the current and future productions.  Cirque also hired employees with some experience like Oberacker who had come from union serving artists on Broadway.

  • Caring about employees welfare

Leaders should take time to listen to employees in order to find out how they are doing and take their opinions on issues. They must show that they care about their input and that they are concerned with their wellbeing and not just profits. Actions that are directed towards employee wellbeing should be taken. For instance Dumont says that they provide a shuttle to transport people to work and the food is also amazing. All these show employees that management care for them and they will reciprocate by caring about work. Crawford also says that on tours, directors would normally come down from Montreal to ensure proper running of the shows.

  • Creating goals and communicating the vision.

Leaders should create organizational goals that employees are expected to work towards achieving. The goals and vision of the company should be properly communicated to the employees to ensure that they understand them. By doing this the managers are giving some direction to the organization.

Every member of an organization is different therefore it is important to appreciate and understand other people’s ways of behaving. Managers need to understand these individual differences because they affect job satisfaction, job performance and behaviors (George & Jones, 2008). Effective individual management ensures a culture where all employees, regardless of culture, race or any other protected characteristic, feel the organization values their contribution. This will lead to the achievement of organizational goals (Imperial College, 2011). This can be achieved by:

  • Evaluating and understanding each employee’s needs.

Empowerment and Motivation of Employees

Each employee has different needs when coming into the organization. Ranging from career enhancement to economic needs, management should understand these needs in order to support every individual accordingly. In the case of Cirque for instance, some artist needed more guidance because they joined for career enhancement while others came in as already established artists. Cantin says they try to evaluate the needs of each artist to assist them with the support they may need.

  • Train and encourage employees to work in a multicultural environment

Other employees should also learn to coexist with colleagues of different cultures. It is the management’s responsibility to ensure that this happens. This can be achieved by holding bonding sessions between employees and offering language trainings. Cirque is enabling communication among employees from all over the world by providing training in six languages. Gagnon says that they hold lots of parties. These parties are an important way of encouraging interaction among employees of different cultures and background.

  • Respecting and understanding each employees background

It’s important to respect each other’s cultural or career background. This will help in avoiding bias. It is also important in knowing the special needs that they may require. Cantin had to understand the background of the Chinese in order to avoid any prejudgment and biasness. They also tried not to “isolate some cast from certain African villages”.

Motivation and empowerment are ways of increasing employee productivity. They are important in ensuring optimal use of the human capital (GanjiNia, Gilaninia, & Sharami, 2013).

  • Empowerment

It is the process of increasing an employee’s capabilities in influencing and dealing with certain issues that affect them within the organization (Awamleh, 2013). Empowerment is important to organizations in many ways. For example it motivates employees, increase participation, increase job satisfaction, effective teamwork, improves productivity and reduces turnover (Gardner, Wright, & Moynihan, 2011). The following are the ways of empowering employees:

  • Involving people in making decisions that involve them (Elnaga & Imran, 2014). It is advisable for management to seek opinions of the employees concerned before a decision is made. When Cirque employees felt the shows were turning out to be for only the privileged, they proposed “Cirque Lite” to cater for others too.
  • Trusting and having confidence in the employees. Managers should have confidence in the abilities of the employees and be ready to delegate duties to them where necessary. 
  • Employee motivation

Motivation is a feeling that gives someone a strong intention to accomplish a work related task. Motivated employees have some inner drive to achieve something and they usually act in a positive way (Dobre, 2013). Various theories regarding motivation have been put forward by different scholars. They include the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory, the McClelland’s acquired needs theory and Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory. These theories discuss several ways of motivating employees which include:

  • Training and development. Training and development seeks to improve on skills and knowledge of employees with a view of improving the general performance (Gupta & Subramanian, 2014). Cirque offered training to its employees like the training they received from the New York clown.
  • Job promotions. It is a way of offering employees more responsibilities and authority for advancement of their careers. Promotions also increases an employees pay due to the increased responsibilities. Alison Crawford, who used to be an assistant to the choreographer, was promoted to be the artistic director for “Dralion” upon return from Chile. She was excited because it was great, with good pay and challenging.
  • Salary increase. Good pay can have a massive influence in employees’ productivity (Omar, Jusoff, & Hussin, 2010). In the past Cirque was paying lower salaries to its employees compared to other companies but has now readjusted the scale. Salaries were also increasing with the growth of the company.
  • Working environment. Improved working conditions and unique facilities motivate employees. Employees were proud of the Studio in Montreal for its location next to North America’s second largest landfill. It also had special features among them a cafeteria crucial for employees’ welfare.


Human capital is an important aspect of any organization and Human Resources teams should device proper ways of full utilization. Employees with the right skills should be hired. Employees should also be allowed more room to develop. Training has been identified as central to employee development and Cirque du Soleil is doing well in it. Refresher courses should be offered regularly. Motivated and empowered employees perform their work effectively. The various methods discussed and many others not discussed are essential in achieving them. Of importance, management needs to show proper leadership skills. They need to exercise authority on issues affecting the organization.


Andish, H. A., Yousefipour, M., Shahsavaripour, H., Ghorbanipour, A., & Noorfelri, M. (2013). Concepts and Strategies of staff Empowerment. Singaporean Journal of Business Economics and Management Studies, 1(11), 106-110.

Awamleh, N. A. (2013, June 15). Enhancing Employees Performance via Empowerment: A Field Survey. Asian Journal of Business Management, 5(3). Retrieved September 7, 2016

Delong, T. J., & V i jayaraghavan, V. (2002, October 15). Cirque du Soleil. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Dobre, O. I. (2013). Employee motivation and organizational performance. Review of Applied Socio- Economic Research, 5(1), 53. Retrieved from

Elnaga, A. A., & Imran, A. (2014). The Impact of Employee Empowerment on Job Satisfaction:Theoretical Study. American Journal of Research Communication,, 2(1), 13-26. Retrieved September 8, 2016, from

Gaines, L., & Wilson, A. (2005). Leading and Motivating as a Manager. Ceridian Corporation.

GanjiNia, H., Gilaninia, S., & Sharami, R. M. (2013, Septebmber). Overview of Employees Empowerment in Organizations. Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review (Oman Chapter), 3(2), 38-43.

Gardner, T., Wright, P., & Moynihan, L. (2011). The Impact of Motivation, Empowerment and Skill-Enhancing Practices on Aggregate Voluntary Turnover. The Mediating Effect of Collective Affective Commitment. Wiley Periodicals.

George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2008). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior (5th ed.). Prentice Hall.

Gupta, B., & Subramanian, J. (2014, November). Factors Affecting Motivation among Employees in Consultancy Companies. International Journal of Engineering Science Invention, 3(11), 59-66. Retrieved September 7, 2016, from

Imperial College. (2011). People Management Guidance. Managing Informal Conduct or Disciplinary Matters. London: Imperial College.

Omar, M. W., Jusoff, K., & Hussin, H. (2010). Employee Motivation and its Impact on Employee Loyalty. World Applied Sciences Journal, 8(7), 871-873.

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